Dana Delamar is here to tell us about writing her new release, Malavita. It’s a prequel to Revenge, which I am currently reading and loving. I never thought I’d enjoy a mafia story set in a foreign country, but I’m truly hooked on the story and on Enrico Lucchesi. Oh, and don’t forget to stay until the end for a great giveaway!
Please welcome Dana Delamar!!
Hi Dana. Thanks so much for having me on your blog today and allowing me to burble about my new book baby!
This week I released “Malavita,” the prequel to my Blood and Honor series about two warring Mafia families in northern Italy. The word “malavita” (Italian for “bad life”) refers to the criminal life of the Mafia. I thought it a fitting title for this book, in which Enrico Lucchesi, a boy who wanted nothing to do with the Mafia, ends up embracing the malavita as the only way he’ll ever get justice when his mother and brothers are murdered by his father’s enemy, Carlo Andretti. After the brutal murders, the two families are pitted against each other in a deadly feud that looks certain to destroy them all.
Into the midst of this darkness steps Antonella Andretti, daughter of Carlo Andretti. She’s loved Enrico from afar for years, even though he barely knows she exists. The last thing she wants is to see both families annihilated by an expensive and devastating war, so she proposes a truce, to be cemented by her marriage to Enrico, and manages to convince her father that this marriage is in everyone’s best interests. Enrico’s father accepts the offer, but Enrico wants nothing more than his freedom and vengeance for his slain family. Will Antonella ever be able to win his heart–or will Enrico only ever see her as his enemy? Even more crucial: has her father truly laid down his arms, or is he merely setting an elaborate trap with her as the bait?
Although I’ve already written two books in this series (“Revenge” and “Retribution”), I heard from a number of readers who wanted to know more about the events that took place before “Revenge.” I was already partway into writing “Redemption,” Book 3 in the series, and I didn’t want to stop. And yet this idea of writing a prequel kept nagging at me. Because Enrico Lucchesi is also the hero of “Revenge,” I’d written several flashbacks about the events that led to the rift between the families, but I’d cut most of that content to tighten up the book and keep it focused on the here and now.
I also hesitated for several other reasons. Could I write a prequel after the first two books were already out? Would my readers hate me for making them wait for Book 3? Would people be confused by my third book release actually being the first book in the series? Would I be able to create an exciting, surprising story about events that readers had already heard a bit about in “Revenge” and “Retribution”?
For a month or so, I convinced myself that I should just drop this idea and continue on with “Redemption.” But this idea wouldn’t let me go. I already had the first chapter written–at one point, I’d planned to use that chapter to start “Revenge,” and it made a perfect jumping off point for “Malavita.” I also had another key scene written in my notes about Enrico, and when I went back and read it, I knew I had to write this story. Enrico is the central character in the Blood and Honor series, and getting a chance to show the events that shaped him was a temptation I ultimately couldn’t resist. So I decided to write a few chapters and show them to my critique partner, Kristine Cayne. If she liked them, I was in full force. I’m sure you can guess the rest!
I wish I could say my doubts ended there. Despite the first few chapters pouring out fairly effortlessly, writing the whole of “Malavita” proved to be quite the challenge. Because I’d already written Books 1 and 2, I had to play within the confines of the history I’d already given the characters. This placed certain restrictions on the plot that gave me fits and almost made me abandon it several times. (I don’t know how many times I told Kristine that I’d given myself an impossible task. Fortunately, she calmly talked me through my doubts each time. Thank goodness for amazing critique partners!)
As it turned out, those very story restrictions I moaned about forced me to dig deep and come up with solutions that lent the story several twists I hadn’t seen coming. I also learned even more about my hero by writing in depth about him as a teen. In “Revenge,” Enrico is an adult. He’s still learning and growing, but in “Malavita,” he’s a young man who doesn’t have a set course yet, and he’s rebelling against the path that’s been chosen for him. What he doesn’t count on is the tenacity and appeal of Antonella Andretti, a girl who’s determined to have her heart’s desires, no matter the cost. Their clashes–and the trust that eventually develops between them–make them both stronger, deeply caring people despite the environment in which they’ve been raised.
I also hesitated to write a love story about two teens. I don’t write YA. My stories are very adult, very gritty, very steamy. If they were movies, they’d get R ratings. “Malavita” had to be different. The romance had to reflect all the doubt, uncertainty, and heartache of first love. Antonella isn’t a supermodel in the looks department–in fact, she firmly believes she’s the ugliest girl in school–and Enrico’s resistance to their marriage only feeds her doubts about her attractiveness. And Enrico–well, he’s a pretty typical eighteen year old in some ways, which means he sticks his foot in his mouth a lot! He’s also grieving for his family and has a hard time seeing past his own hurt. But Antonella is no doormat, and despite himself, Enrico is intrigued by this girl who demands his respect, even when she’s at her most uncertain.
If the reception from my beta readers is any indication, all my struggles to bring “Malavita” to life were worth it. Here’s a little more about the book:
Enrico Lucchesi never wanted anything to do with the Mafia. But when his brothers were murdered, he accepted that he would someday be the next don. However, he doesn’t accept that he must marry the daughter of the man who killed them. Enrico will never trust an Andretti, never mind love one. The Andrettis are up to something with their so-called “truce”–and Enrico must avenge his siblings. But will his dark secret spell the end of his vengeance–and possibly the Lucchesis?
After Antonella Andretti’s father tries to destroy the Lucchesis, she persuades him that an alliance–achieved by her marriage to Enrico, the “golden boy” she’s loved from afar–would be in everyone’s best interests. As her wedding day approaches, people close to her father start dying, and her fiancé’s behavior is suspect. When she learns Enrico’s true feelings about her–and what her father’s actual plans are–will Antonella damn their families to eternal war, or will she broker a peace that might destroy her heart?
When they reached Splendore, Enrico was a perfect gentleman, helping Antonella out of the jacket, pulling out her chair, making sure she was comfortable, and meeting her eyes and smiling, as if they were truly on a date.
The staff greeted Enrico like he was an old friend, chiding him for being away so long. So he’d been there before many times. When the waiter joshed him about his latest date, Antonella realized that he’d brought girls there before. He must have, back in the days before he’d gone to England.
Whatever appetite she’d had was gone. He was humoring her, that’s all. He hadn’t selected a special place.
Oh, Splendore was romantic and had a lovely view. But it wasn’t a place he hadn’t been a million times before. He hadn’t chosen it for her.
“What has you frowning?” he asked, as he perused the menu.
She slapped hers shut and set it on the table. “How many girls have you brought here?”
“A few. It’s a nice place.”
“I thought you were trying to apologize.”
He gave her his full attention then. “I was.”
“You didn’t put a second’s thought into this.”
“Antonella, I’m not sure what you expect from me.”
“If I have to spell it out—”
That caught her by surprise. “What?”
“I’m obviously failing to meet your expectations. I’d like to know what they are.”
She lowered her voice. “I’m your fiancée. You ought to be reminding me of that.”
He let out a breath, but clenched his menu, bending the edges of it. “Not by my choice,” he said through gritted teeth.
It was the truth, yet still the words hit her like a blow. “Then why are we here?”
“Because I’m not a jerk. I hurt you, and I wanted to apologize.”
“You’re doing a horrible job,” she said, her voice warbling. Damn it. She didn’t want him to hear that.
He set his menu on the table. “You expect me to forget everything that’s happened? Everything I’ve lost?” Now his voice was the one warped with emotion. “I’m not some unfeeling robot.”
“And I’m not just Carlo Andretti’s daughter. But that’s all I’ll ever be to you, yes?”
“What do you expect?” he asked, his voice soft. “What do you expect of me?”
She almost said nothing, almost demanded he take her home. But the look in his dark brown eyes—the ache she saw reflected there—made her pause. She let out a sigh. “I am not my last name.”
He nodded and took her hand, squeezing it lightly. “You are right. You have never hurt me. But I have hurt you. Twice now.” He gave her a wry smile. “Give me a third chance?”
She returned his smile. “This is your last one. I mean it.”
“I won’t need another,” he said and pressed a kiss to her knuckles, the brush of his lips making her belly flutter.
Dana Delamar is the author of the “Blood and Honor” romantic suspense series, which is set in Italy among the Calabrian Mafia. An avid traveler who loves to learn about different peoples and cultures, Dana often sets her books in exotic locales. She grew up in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest, and today makes Seattle her home. She’s an omnivorous reader with overflowing bookshelves, a passionate love of “Supernatural,” “Firefly,” “True Blood,” “Mad Men,” and a zillion other TV shows. Where she finds the time to sleep is a mystery.
And last but not least, Dana Delamar is giving away this beautiful red bamboo coral bookmark and a swag pack!